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My Saab's sat nav has broken - how can I fix it?

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Car Clinic: Saab sat nav

Q. The sat nav in my 09-plate Saab 9-3 has stopped working and displays the error message: “Nav DVD read error”. I’ve also lost voice recognition, which I use for hands-free phone calls. Would a CD cleaner disc solve the problem? A Saab parts dealer tells me a new unit costs about £2,000.
PW, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire

A. It could be that unless the disc/sat nav works, the rest of the system doesn’t get as far as starting up — hence the lack of Bluetooth and voice-activated calls. It’s certainly worth cleaning the disc. Try the Thomson Rotary Disc Cleaning kit (£4.99 at amazon.co.uk). If it doesn’t work, the Hama CD/DVD Laser Lens Cleaning disc (£6.22 at amazon.co.uk) will clean the player’s laser lens.

If cleaning fails to fix the problem, a repair may be possible but will probably be costly. Your best option may be to buy a replacement unit. It needn’t cost as much as you have been quoted, though.


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Your Saab’s unit is double-DIN size — 180mm wide by 100mm high. Saabtech (saabtechwelwyn.co.uk) sells a Saab-branded Kenwood double-DIN unit with a CD player, digital radio and Garmin sat nav that can be updated by download so you don’t have to buy discs. It also offers iPod connectivity and a hands-free Bluetooth phone connection, and costs £995 installed.

Even cheaper double-DIN options with Bluetooth and voice start at about £250 if you’re not bothered about Saab branding and are prepared to fit it yourself, but you will need to buy adaptors for the fascia plate and wiring.

Alternatively, use a portable sat nav and just add voice-activated calling with a device such as the Jabra Freeway HD-ready Bluetooth Visor Speakerphone (around £60 on ebay.co.uk) or the Parrot Minikit (£61.99 at halfords.com). These devices clip to a sun visor and allow hands-free calling. 

Sunday Times Driving Car Clinic: Dave Pollard, car accessory advice

INSPECTOR GADGET
Dave Pollard has written several Haynes manuals and has tested just about every car-related accessory – read more from Dave here.

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